Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard Friday asked the state to conduct a recount of the June 5 recall election — a move that state Democrats say is a waste of taxpayer money."
Wanggaard, , said is seeking a recount because many of his constituents have asked him to do so.
“From the moment the election results were announced on June 5th, I have had dozens of people beating down my door demanding that I ask for a recount immediately,” Wanggaard said in a statement. “While doing so may have pleased many of my supporters, especially those in my party, I have never done something just because it was demanded of me.”
Wanggaard lost to Lehman by 834 votes — with Lehman receiving 36,351 votes and Wanggaard getting 35,517 votes. The county's.
Lehman said that while he was a bit surprised that Wanggaard wanted the recount, he's confident in their ability to continue carrying the win. Since the night of the election, officials with Wanggaard's campaign have alleged that there were "voter irregularities" and the an investigation looking into a number of allegations.
"Anyone can make an accusation," Lehman said. "What we're seeing is a pattern of negativity."
Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, released the following statement:
“It is shameful in this era of deficit crisis that Van Wanggaard is willing to waste taxpayer money in a desperate effort to cling to power. It is also shameful that Wanggaard has resorted to raising the specter of fraud, when the fact is that the voters of his district rejected him in a hard-fought, but fair, contest. The people have spoken. Van Wanggaard should spare them higher taxes and listen.”
How the Recount Process Works And Who's Paying For It
Since Wanggaard lost by a margin of more than one-half a percentage point, he will need to pay for a portion of the recount. According to state statute, "the petitioner shall pay a fee of $5 for each ward for which the petition requests a ballot recount, or $5 for each municipality for which the petition requests a recount where no wards exist."
However, Wanggaard's campaign said earlier this week that people from all over the country have contacted him and they are willing to help pay that cost.
Michael Haas, staff counsel at the Government Accountability Board, said the GAB received the petition along with a check for $685, which is the cost to cover 137 wards. However, the cost of the recount could be thousands of dollars, Haas said.
"The County Clerk would have much better idea of the cost, but really most of the cost is on the County," he said. "There are a number of municipalities involved, the County also has to pay the Board of Canvasses to reconvene and they have to reprogram all of the voting equipment."
The state may issue the order for the recount either today or Monday.
If the order is issued today, the recount will likely begin Monday or Tuesday, but if the order is issued Monday, it will likely take place Tuesday or Wednesday.
The outcome of the 21st Senate District race has been watched closely statewide because a Lehman victory gives Democrats control of the state Senate by a 17-16 margin.
The County has 13 calendar days to finish the recount, but Haas said he thought they would finish next week if they started early in the week. There’s also an appeal period where either of the candidates has five business days after the county submits the results to have the matter heard, then we have to wait five day to issue the certificate.
Why Wanggaard Is Asking For A Recount
Wanggaard said he thought about what was in the best interest of the 21st Senate District and spoken to a number of voters, supporters and elected officials before making his decision. All of them supported a recount, he said.
He was also reminded of Judge Dennis Barry’s election where he had been down
by 700 votes, but after he asked for recount and won by 90 votes.
“I had forgotten about that story about my friend,” Wanggaard stated. “For a variety of reasons, not all related to the election results, that story warmed my heart.
"I also heard, unsolicited, from many, many others — people I have never met. Like many, they are passionate about the recent elections," he added. "Overwhelmingly, and for a variety of reasons, they believe their votes were disenfranchised on election night. And they are asking for a recount."
Wanggaard stated he was not seeking a recount as a delay tactic.
“This is not about maintaining power or denying Democratic power,” he stated. “There are no ‘secret plans’ for a special legislative session during this recount and no votes scheduled.”
What The Petition Alleged
Wanggaard filed a recount petition Friday with the state Government Accountability Board, which listed the following reasons for a recount:
• Numerous challenges by election observers hadn’t been documented or
• Individuals providing assistance to voters were not properly documented.
• Individuals were allowed to register to vote and vote with improper proof of
residence and/or identification.
• Individuals were electioneering in polling locations.
• Individuals voted in more than one location.
• Individuals were given incentives to vote.